Dear SEC haters:
Better luck next year.
Oh, there was much rejoicing outside of Southeastern Conference country the night of Nov. 10 when Texas A&M knocked off No. 1 Alabama. OK, there was some rejoicing within SEC country as well.
But for the rest of the country, it was a sign that a new world order was at hand. The SEC’s reign of BCS tyranny had come to an end, and like many a corrupt empire, the conference had been felled by the enemy within.
Funny thing happened on the way to a Kansas State-Oregon national championship game, though.
It didn’t happen.
On the same BCS-busting night of Nov. 17, the Wildcats were manhandled by Baylor, and Oregon’s light-years-ahead offense was short-circuited by Stanford’s SEC-like defense and physicality.
Sure, Notre Dame is No. 1. The Fighting Irish are already sunning their bleached bodies down on Miami Beach, awaiting the survivor of Saturday’s SEC Championship Game between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia.
But shortly after that, leprechauns, the party’s over.
Get ready for seventh heaven, SEC style.
Every year, non-SEC fans hope, pray, fervently wish for the SEC’s demise. In recent years they’ve been reduced to muttering, “Well, they may have won another BCS title, but top to bottom the SEC isn’t as good.”
Well, when your top is No. 1 versus No. 2 as it was last year between LSU and Alabama, how good does your bottom line have to look?
OK, this year the bottom of the SEC was in tatters. Auburn fell from the 2010 BCS title to its worst season in 60 years, Arkansas fell from the top 10 to 4-8, Tennessee won one SEC game, and Kentucky endured football season until basketball started, like usual.
But the top of the SEC was off the charts. Six teams in the BCS top 10, all with 10 or more wins, including three of the top four (Alabama, Georgia, Florida). That’s how good the SEC is this year, a conference that took a collective detour off Florida’s Turnpike to run roughshod over the ACC in four, ahem, “rivalry games” last weekend.
Instead of rivalries, it turned out to be a nice diversion for teams like Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, even Vanderbilt, from the sledgehammer showdowns they face week after week. And even so, the SEC is still plenty good enough to churn out six 10-win teams and capture majority ownership of the BCS top 10 in a hostile takeover.
And as nice of a story as Notre Dame’s road to redemption is, as good as Manti Te’o and its defense is, the Irish will certainly be an underdog to the SEC champion. In fact, some say Bama, Georgia, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M would all be favored over Notre Dame.
The Irish certainly can win, but at this point, you have to go with the odds. And history. You have expect that Alabama or Georgia will be hoisting a crystal football come Jan. 7.
Then America can go back into denial.